Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Resistance Training"

Day 298 - Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 4: Exercise Order

There are many different ways in which you can structure a workout, but there must be careful planning involved to make sure that correct technique and most importantly safety is adhered. I detailed in a previous blog the difference between "Power", "Core" and "Assistance" exercises, so if you have not read the definitions of those, you can go back and familiarize yourself with those terms as they will be used below. I have listed 4 of the most common ways to structure an effective workout.

Power, Other Core, Then Assistance Exercises

This order allows the individual to practice safe exercise technique to ensure proper form. Power moves such as the snatch, hang clean, power clean, and push jerk should always be completed first in a workout as these exercises require the highest level of skill and concentration not to mention can not be completed properly if certain muscles are already fatigued.

Next after power moves would be other core exercises. These moves would also be considered multi-joint and work major muscle groups, but require less explosive power so they ask less from the human body.

Finally, assistance exercises should be performed towards the end of a workout as the major muscle groups have then been worked and you can hone in on the smaller muscles easier and safer. Not only that, but you will also notice that the workout would then be structured to perform large muscle group, multi-joint exercises first, then smaller muscle group, single-joint exercises last.

A very quick example of a workout order for an individual would be; snatch (power), bench press (other core), and then bicep curls (assistance).

Upper and Lower Body Exercises

One form of circuit training is to alternate upper body exercises with lower body exercises. This is especially useful for those individuals that are new to resistance training as they may find doing many different upper or lower body exercises in a row to be too strenuous. This also allows less rest time between exercises cutting down on the total workout time because as the upper body rests from a particular exercise, you can work the lower body, and vice versa.

Not only that, but by cutting down on rest periods between exercises, you automatically add in cardiovascular elements to the workout by having an elevated heart rate almost the entire time!

Supersets and Compound Sets

Supersets also cut down on rest time as you generally do one exercise immediately following another. These are usually (not always) used working opposing muscle groups, or agonists to antagonists. For example, an individual would do a biceps curl exercise and as soon as the set is completed, they immediately complete a triceps exercise.

Compound sets are slightly different in the fact that the intention is to use 2 back-to-back exercises that primarily work the same muscle group to create compounded resistance. For example, an individual could be doing barbell bicep curls, and as soon as the set is complete, pick up a couple of dumbbells and do hammer curls. Slightly different exercises with a bit of a different combination of muscles being worked, but still attacks the biceps.

Alternating Push and Pull Exercises

Yet another form of circuit training, this training technique allows the shortening of total workout time by allowing certain muscle groups to rest while their opposing muscles work.

A very common push/pull workout is working the chest and back muscles in the same workout. For example, an individual would complete a set of pushups or bench press and then immediately complete a set of pullups or lat pulldowns. By alternating between pushing and pulling exercises, you ensure that certain muscle groups are not being overworked by working every single set.


Quote of the day:
"Above all challenge yourself. You may well surprise yourself at what strengths you have, what you can accomplish."
-Cecile Springer


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Day 297 - Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 3: Training Frequency

Training frequency is essentially the number of resistance training sessions within a time period (usually 1 week). Like the other previous categories or steps in this 7-step program design approach, training frequency is dependent on the experience and fitness level of the individual.

Training Status

Generally, training sessions are based on number of sessions, or more specifically, the number of rest or recovery days for specific body parts between sessions. The general rule of thumb is to have no fewer than 1 day of recovery in between resistance routines for a specific body part, but also no more than about 3 days between. For example, if a beginner is doing total-body workouts on resistance days, the pattern should try and be split up so that the week is balanced properly such as a Monday-Thursday schedule.

As an individual progresses from a "beginner" or someone who is new to resistance training, to a more experienced resistance-trained athlete, they can then increase their number of resistance training sessions per week as well as single-out specific body parts in a more concentrated manner.

For example, beginners should generally start out with 2-3 total-body resistance workouts per week. As they become more accustomed to the intensity and workload, then can then increase to 3-4 workouts per week and eventually 4-7 resistance routines per week. As more resistance routines are used each week, it becomes imperative and necessary to have more body-part specific workouts to ensure correct recovery after each session.

Sport Season

Athletes should generally decrease the time spent in the weight room during the sport season. If a proper resistance-training program has been designed, their strength and power should be developed and honed during the off-season and then simply maintained during the season as well as skill-specific training increases. This also ensures that proper recovery time is allotted for sport-specific training.

Training Load and Exercise Type
The more resistance used during a training session generally means that more recovery is needed following. To somewhat bypass this setback would be to alternate heavy resistance training days with lighter days. A few other things to note is that the upper body requires less recovery time after heavy resistance training than lower body. Also, "assistance exercises" (bicep curls, etc.) require less recovery time than multi-joint exercises or "core exercises".

Other Training

Of course, an individual's alternative training schedule (especially for athletes) should also play a part in their resistance training schedule. For example, an athlete who has a plyometric training day should not be directly proceeded or followed by a heavy resistance training session for the legs.


Quote of the day:
"Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure."
-Earl Wilson


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Day 293 - Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 2: Exercise Selection

Step 1 detailed the Needs Analysis of an individual to create training schedules based on the analysis of the specific sport and athletic/training ability of the individual. Step 2 is all about Exercise Selection.

Step 2 - Exercise Selection

Plain and simple, a resistance training program should be structured around the muscular needs of the individual for sport performance or goal-oriented needs. Creating a program based on proper rep ranges and intensity loads is crucial to help the individual meet their goals.

Exercise Type

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of resistance training exercises, all of which can be split into 2 main categories, "Core Exercises" and "Assistance Exercises". Usually, when one thinks of "Core" exercises, we think of those that directly involve the abdominals or midsection. That is not the main reason why the name is derived for the "Core Exercises" I will detail below, but the midsection definitely plays a large part in these moves.

Core exercises are actions that involve large muscle areas (chest, shoulder, back, hip, thigh), involve two or more primary joints, and receive priority when an individual is selecting exercises as these are generally directly related to sport-specific applications. An example of a core exercise would be the bench press as it involves a major muscle group (chest) and uses 2 primary joints (elbow, shoulder).

Assistance exercises usually recruit smaller muscle groups (upper arm, abs, calf, neck, forearm, lower back, lower leg), involve only one primary joint and are generally less-important in improving athletic performance alone. An example of an "Assistance Exercise" would be a bicep curl as it mainly works the muscles of the upper arm, and only acts upon one primary joint (elbow).

Structural exercises are those that directly or indirectly load the spine in some way. A back squat for example places the resistive load directly on the spine causing many muscles to be involved in keeping a rigid torso.

Structural exercises that are performed very quickly are known as "power exercises". A good example of this would be a power clean. Power exercises are a fantastic way to practice sport-specific movements while creating a strong midsection and developing strong, powerful muscles!

Movement Analysis of the Sport

This stage is especially important and related to "Step 1: Needs Analysis" as an individual who trains in resistance movements that are as closely related to their sport-related performance as possible, the more likely their performance will increase. This is known as the "specific adaptation to imposed demands" (SAID) principle.

For example, a sprinter or competitive runner will see tremendous benefits from using weighted lunges in their training as the correct muscle set is involved in both the training and performance of sprinting.

One thing that can not be overlooked however, is muscular balance. Certain muscles not only act as agonists (primary movers) in a movement, but can also act as antagonists to other actions, or sort of a braking mechanism. For example, when you throw a baseball, your triceps muscle is involved in extending your arm at your elbow. As your arm extends, your bicep acts as one of these braking mechanisms in order for your elbow to not hyper-extend. If however, a baseball player strengthens their tricep muscles more than their bicep muscles, they can create a disparity between the two and can increase the likelihood of injury.

Besides muscular imbalance within a limb such as the previous example, muscular imbalance can also be detrimental to athletes who swing a piece of equipment for example. Golfers, baseball players, etc. can experience muscular imbalance as one side of their body may be stronger than the other to develop torsional power. If a well-balanced resistance training program is not implemented, one side of the body will continue to be stronger which can also lead to injury.

Exercise Technique Experience

Very basic theory here, if an athlete does not know how to perform an exercise with correct form and safety, then they should be instructed on how to correctly perform said exercise, and then start off with just small increases in intensity. For example, a distance runner may not have experience in the weight room, and has never done weighted lunges before. They should start off first learning what the correct form of a lunge is, then slowly adding weight as they improve strength and form.

Quote of the day:
"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal, My strength lies solely in my tenacity."
~L.Pasteur


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Day 291 - Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 1: Needs Analysis

Designing and implementing an efficient resistance training program for an individual can be broken down into 7 steps. I will detail each step individually and explain some reasons and examples of each.

Step 1: Needs Analysis

A needs analysis is a 2-stage approach based upon an assessment of an athlete or individual and the characteristics of the sport or goals of said individual.

Evaluation of the Sport/Goals

Once a specific goal has been determined from an athlete or individual, specific needs for those goals can be assessed and addressed. For example, if an athlete is a football linebacker, an analysis of their specific movements as well as physiological improvements can be evaluated.Not only that, but common points of injury can also be involved in the program design.

Power athletes (such as football lineman, shotputters, etc.) may improve performance from muscular hypertrophy (growth) because of the increased cross-sectional size of the muscles contributing to their muscular power. However, other athletes competing in endurance type events would find muscular hypertrophy detrimental to their performance.

Assessment of the Athlete/Individual

This is where testing and evaluation of an athlete is most important to determine an individual's current fitness level and what type of training experience they have. For example, the athlete may have just completed an extensive 6-week speed and agility program and now needs to try and improve their strength and flexibility. Or maybe they just came off their recovery period of a month of sitting on the couch not doing much of anything. All of these factors need to be factored in when designing the resistance training program.

Once an individual's status is understood, the primary training goals can then aid in designing a proper resistance training program.

Quote of the day:
"Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his Goals."
~Aristotle


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Day 289 - Weight Selection in Body Beast

 Great question regarding increasing resistance in Body Beast:
When incresing on these Pryamids is it best to increse from the bottom up or the top down
E.G.

If i do say
15 = 20lb
12 = 30lb
08 = 40lb

IF i found that i think i could move it up the following week would it be best to try next week
15 = 25lb
12 = 30lb
08 = 40lb

OR
15 = 20lb
12 = 30lb
08 = 45lb
GREAT question! First of all, Steve Edwards and Dennis Faye (Beachbody's Fitness Nerds) hosted a video chat back in August after Body Beast came out, called "To Beast or Not to Beast" they addressed this question (along with others relating to Body Beast) in the chat, although they gave sort of a roundabout answer, so here are my thoughts:

First of all, let's talk about Training Load and Repetitions.

%1RM - # Repetitions Allowed
100 - 1
95 - 2
93 - 3
90 - 4
87 - 5
85 - 6
83 - 7
80 - 8
77 - 9
75 - 10
70 - 11
67 - 12
65 - 15

What the above chart tells us is that if you can lift 50lbs for 8 reps, then ideally, you should be able to lift around 42 pounds for 12 reps and around 41 pounds for 15 reps. Sounds off right? Well if you are doing one single straight set of 12 reps, you SHOULD be able to lift 42 pounds and max out, but with Body Beast, the goal is to fatigue you a bit before you even reach the 12 rep range, and therefore fatigue you even more before you reach the 8 rep set so that you don't need a huge rack of dumbbells to get huge...that's the theory at least.

So then what? Well, back to your original question. What weights should I increase first. Check out my blog on Volume.

"Volume - Total amount of weight lifted in a workout."
If we use the example:

15 = 20lb (15*20=300)
12 = 30lb (12*30=360)
08 = 40lb (8*40=320)
Total Volume = 980lbs

15 = 25lb (15*25=375)
12 = 30lb (12*30=360)
08 = 40lb (8*40=320)
Total Volume = 1055lbs

15 = 20lb (15*20=300)
12 = 30lb (12*30=360)
08 = 45lb (8*45=360)
Total Volume = 1020lbs

From this example, you can see that the 2nd scenario is actually the most "volume".

Having said that, Volume does not necessarily determine anything unless you define what your goals are.

With Body Beast, the goals of the program include increasing muscle size (hypertrophy). We know that hypertrophy is best gained in the 6-12 rep range, so....if you increase your weights on the 15 repetition exercises, your overall volume may go up, but you would actually be leaning towards training your aerobic system more. This may be beneficial for endurance athletes.

If, on the other hand, you wish to gain more size, aim to increase resistance on the 8 and 12 rep sets first. If you fail out on the final set and only make it to 6 reps for example, then you are still hitting that hypertrophy range.

Very long-winded answer, but I always enjoy explaining the "why". Hope that helps!

Quote of the day:
"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
~Theodore Roosevelt


Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com





Day 212 - 10 Great Health and Fitness Tips

It seems as though people try and over analyze health and fitness. This unfortunately leads to some folks getting discouraged and giving up on a healthy lifestyle. They seem to think that they need to exercise for this much time at this time of day and eat only these things at these times, etc.

Fad diets and fad exercise regimens come and go, but at the end of the day, there are a set group of "rules" I feel everyone should live by, which are listed below.

1. Be As Active as Possible - Those of you out there that are currently living a sedentary lifestyle will like this one. Rule number 1 is not about working out, but being active (don't worry, #10 is all about working out!). There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of tips people can do every day to help them stay more active. Here are just a few examples; park at the back of the lot when going to the store, you are then forced to walk a further distance. If you have grocery bags or something to carry on the way back, even better as it will be like a mini workout. If you work on the 3rd or 4th floor of a building, take the stairs. Obviously if you work on the 98th floor you will take the elevator, but maybe only until the 94th floor and then take the stairs the rest of the way. Little things like this should be permanently embedded in your brain to make you think of "how can I stay active today?"

2. Eat More Plants - No, I do not mean buying one of those "ready to cook" dishes and popping it in the microwave. The amount of processing those veggies have gone through to get to your freezer has sucked so many nutrients out of them. I mean fresh, whole, good old fruits and vegetables. I would say 70% of the stuff in your fridge should be fresh products that will not last more than a week. That way, you will be forced to eat them before they go bad, and two, by eating all of those fruits and veggies, you will be too full to fill your belly with other junk. Also, when possible, eat your fruits and veggies as naturally as possible (raw) because cooking can remove some of the vital nutrients!

3. Resistance Training - Most women (and some men) are afraid of getting "bulky". I am going to let you in on a little secret...it is extremely hard (if not impossible) for women and also men to ever become "bulky". You see, our bodies are designed to be lean and fast. Our ancestors had to chase down food and run from predators, etc. so your body does not want to be lugging around all of that extra muscle weight (or fat for that matter). Unfortunately, your body has no other choice but to store extra calories from overeating as fat, but I am getting away from the topic here. Yes, men have a higher affinity to build muscle because they have more testosterone, which makes it virtually impossible for women to ever become "bulky". Weight training (using resistance against your muscles) has a whole slew of benefits ranging from increasing your strength in muscles and ligaments, helping prevent osteoporosis, increasing your resting metabolic rate, etc. Weight training is vital for everyone to do; male, female, young and old!

4. Circuit Train - This is resistance training...done as a circuit. Many of you may have tried this type of training. The most wonderful thing occurs when you circuit train. Even though resistance training is considered "anaerobic training" or working your body without oxygen (basically), a well-designed circuit routine also works your "aerobic" systems of your body similar to running on a treadmill. This is due to the fact that when you burn your muscles, you are causing what is known as "microtrauma" to your muscle cells, where you body has to come in a repair to make you stronger for next time. How does your body repair your muscles? Well it increases your heart rate and improves your circulation. If done correctly, circuit training that works your muscles and your circulatory system at once should be the only type of training anyone should ever need (unless you are training for an endurance event such as a marathon, etc.). Not only that, but well-designed circuit routines have been proven to burn more calories than standalone cardio ever can, plus your metabolism is kicked into high gear for hours after the workout is over (including while you sleep!).

5. Change Things Up - Also known as "periodization", this is the idea that you should not be doing the same things all the time. Even you runners out there that want to train for a race should not just run, but do other full body exercises. When you do something, your body wants to do that particular thing as efficiently and effectively as possible so it strengthens you in those areas, also known as adaptation. Once you adapt to a program, your body stops changing and you hit a plateau. This is very common for people who want to get fit so they decide to take up running. Well, they get out there and run 5km, 3 days a week and see great results the first few weeks, losing weight, etc. Then, all of a sudden as if someone hit a switch, they stop losing weight. Its because their body is used to running and is no longer changing. This is why full-body circuit routines are great, you can constantly swap out different moves and literally have an infinite number of exercise combinations to keep your body constantly guessing...and constantly changing!

6. Train With a Purpose - If you are a soccer player, you would train your legs and core and heart to be a better runner and kick the ball harder, etc. If you are a gymnast, you train your flexibility and core strength, etc. Well for average people who do not have a specific sport to train for, you should be training your body to become more functionally fit for everyday life. This includes core strength to improve posture, leg strength to climb stairs into your old age, arm strength to lift your kids and play with them. Don't just do something just because it looks cool or is the new fad, do it because it is going to improve your overall health. For example, if you are a dad who coaches your sons soccer team and wishes to be more fit and active, going to the gym three days a week and spending 45mins of every hour doing ridiculous weight on the bench press and bicep curls may make your muscles grow a bit, but you are still going to be huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the kids. Take that for example right there, kids do a little bit of everything, they run, they jump, they swing from trees, adults should take a hint...

7. Stretch - Now that you are following rule #3 and doing some resistance training, remember to stretch as well. Nothing makes someone old faster than their muscles experiencing atrophy (decay) and shortening up as they get older. You see it in your older relatives, their posture is terrible, they hunch over, etc. This is due to a lack of strength training as well as a lack of stretching. It literally is the fountain of youth. Stretching not only opens up our muscles but also helps with joint mobility, circulation and injury prevention.

8. Core Strength - I touched on this a bit in #6, but core strength is something everyone should be focused on. Your core allows you to do the things you do in every day life. I don't just mean those "six-pack abs" here either, but your entire trunk. Everything from you "nipples to knees" is your core and all the way around your body. Not only will your arms and legs function more efficiently due to a strong core (healthy trunk makes for a healthy tree) but you will also be less susceptible to injuries, especially with your back.

9. Drink Your Water - Most of us are underhydrated, probably caused by our obsession with caffeine (diuretic). A properly hydrated body just runs more efficiently including digestions, our immune system, our thinking, etc. Not only that, but if you are underhyrated, your body thinks as if you are living in a dessert so it starts to retain water which can add inches here and there. Drink your water and eat raw fruits and vegetables as they are mostly water to stay hydrated!

10. Exercise - I told you I would get back to this one. As much as we all like to think, "Oh, I did the gardening today, that is enough exercise" or "I walked the dog, that is enough exercise" you are fooling yourself into thinking you are speaking the truth. Stop lying to yourself and get some exercise. Exercise is where your heart rate gets up high (much higher than walking pace) and stays there for a decent amount of time. For those of you starting out, 20 mins of exercise will be plenty, then as you get more fit and more comfortable with your changing body, you can increase the amount of time you work out. Keep in mind though that more does not necessarily mean better. Some people go from couch potato to 2 hours at the gym their first time out and can barely walk the next day. Unless you are training for the Olympics, most people will benefit from 45-60mins a day, 5-6 days a week. Yes, I had to sneak that part in...everyone should get at least 20mins of exercise 5-6 days a week...no questions asked.


Quote of the day:
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
~ Aristotle


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Day 211 - Muscles


Today's blog is all about muscle. Everybody has loads of muscles in their bodies. They do everything from protect your organs, aid in involuntary bodily functions (heart, digestion), create heat, and of course movement of our limbs and body parts.

Your body is made up of 3 different types of muscles. Cardiac muscle is only found in your heart. It is an involuntary muscle that pumps in rhythm to transport blood and nutrients throughout your body. It is involuntary because no matter how hard your concentrate, your brain cannot directly control your heart, it just runs on autopilot.

Smooth muscle is found around your organs and is also involuntary. These muscles do such things as move your food throughout your digestive tract.

Thirdly, you have skeletal muscle. This is the (mostly) voluntary muscle that allows us to speak, move our hands, walk, etc. 

You genetically have a set number of muscle fibers in your body that is set during puberty. You may gain more muscle fibers in childhood, but once you reach your teenage puberty years, the number of muscle fibers you have is set. Now that does not mean that your muscles will stay that size forever, as it is possible to grow the fibers you already have.

The number of muscle cells you are given mostly determines the way you look, but exercising your muscles and staying fit can lower body fat percentage, make your muscles more defined looking, and of course grow them a bit to look lean and toned, or even big and muscular if that is your thing!

Our bodies are constantly under construction. Work crews are transported around our circulatory system all day, every day, breaking down and disposing of broken or unneeded tissues. This includes muscles and ligaments. Unfortunately, our bodies take the "use it or lose it" approach, so as we age, if our muscles are not being used, we dispose of them over time. That is why it is of vital importance that everyone includes some sort of resistance training to their exercise programs a few times a week.

You see, when you cut your skin, your body creates a scab and then repairs the damage. It is the same for when you are lifting or pushing something heavy. Using your muscles causes tiny tears and rips in the muscle fibers. Your construction crews then swoop in and repair the damage, and leave your muscles stronger for the future.

Not only does resistance training help improve your tensile strength of your muscles and ligaments, but doing dynamic movements help coordinate your body better. Human beings are creatures of habit. We get good at the things we do often, so throwing a punch at a punching bag, or doing a jump squat, etc. is created by a wave of coordinated chemical releases from your brain to your muscles that allow your muscles to act in a synchronized manner. Athletes are perfect examples of this. If you shoot a basketball into a basket a few hundred thousand times, your brain is going to become really good at remembering how to do it and even becoming better at it. This is also known as "muscle memory".

This is important as we age, because like deteriorating muscles, our nervous system and balance also become less and less efficient as we age which can lead to injuries caused by muscles imbalances or uncoordinated movements. The more and more we train our muscles to be active, the more coordinated, balanced, and healthier we stay.

Having said all of that regarding "muscle memory", it is important to constantly be changing the way we exercise our muscles. If we were to do bicep curls 3 days a week for the rest of our lives, only a specific portion of that muscle would adapt and stay "good" for that time, while the rest of the muscles in your arm and shoulder, etc. essentially melt away. Your muscles need dynamic, coordinated, multi-planar movements to stay fresh, youthful and healthy.

For the women out that that want to stay away from weights because they don't want to look like "she-hulk", remember that testosterone is what causes men to have bigger looking muscles. Men on average have about 20-30% more testosterone than women do, which allows them to be about 50% stronger and build bigger muscles. Having said that, muscles are muscles, so if you took a 130lb man and a 130lb woman with relatively similar muscle size, they should have the same strength. Pound for pound, women can be just as strong as men!

One final thing, just remember to push through the burn. We used to think that that burning sensation you get in your muscles during exercise (caused by lactic acid buildup) was your body telling you to stop exercising. But in fact, researchers have discovered that it is actually your body trying to eek out that last little bit of effort by supplying your muscles with a shot of (painful, burning) fuel. The thing is, the more you cause your muscles to burn like that, the more efficient they become at dealing with that pain. You may notice that the more you exercise, the less and less burn you get in your muscles, allowing you to push yourself further and further!


Quote of the day:
"Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future."
~ Denis Waitley

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Day 206 - Health Myths Put to the Test


We have all heard of fad diets and exercise trends that come and go, all promising to "Lose 10 pounds in 10 days" or "THIS miracle food will help you lose 5 pounds instantly" etc. When it comes down to it, an active lifestyle with a balanced, healthy diet is the best and only sure-fire way to get and stay healthy. Below are some popular health myths that I will debunk!

Fat Makes Me Fat - People tend to confuse dietary fat with the body flub that surrounds their body known as adipose tissue. Truth is, dietary fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and should make up 25 to 30% of caloric intake. Dietary fat helps dissolve vital fat-soluble vitamins in the bloodstream such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Your omega-3 fatty acids are also attributed to a healthy cardiovascular system. The problem people run into is consuming too many saturated and trans fats, the latter of which should be avoided at all costs due to its utter uselessness in the human body.

You see, back in the 1980's fat began to develop a very bad reputation from some medical experts who believed that people were getting fat because they were eating too much fat, which coincidentally has twice as many calories per gram compared to carbohydrates or proteins. This is only partially true, as it is not fat that makes us fat, it is the calories in the fat that makes us fat. You can cut fat out of your diet completely and still become a fat cow by eating too many carbohydrates and protein (which is very apparent in today's society).

One thing to note here, is that since companies all started to jump on this "low-fat" bandwagon, they realized that their food products don't taste as good without fat (humans inherently enjoy fatty foods) so they substitute fat for sugar. Unfortunately sugar and sugar substitutes can make you just as big or bigger!

There are many reasons for humans to consume fats, we just need to realize that since there is twice as many calories per gram in fat compared to protein or carbs, that we need to eat less fat, not eliminate it completely. Needless to say, most people need to eat a lot less of everything!

Ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet should include olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, etc. Aim for about 60-70 grams per day (but everyone is different).

Cardio Training is Better for me Than Resistance Training - I see this all the time. Women especially head into a gym, hop on an elliptical or treadmill, etc and work away for an extended period of time, work up a slight sweat, then go home. What good is that? First of all, you are only working a specific portion of your body, not to mention not really burning a whole heck of a lot of calories. Yes, cardiovascular training is important. You need to get your heart rate up to clear the junk out of your arteries and veins to allow your heart to work more efficiently. Second, a longer, slow-burn type of cardio session can do wonders to burning fat, lowering your resting heart rate, and lowering blood pressure. EVERYONE needs to incorporate some sort of strength training into their balanced exercise plan a couple times a week, at least! Men and women a like should work all of the muscles in their body at least twice a week.

Strength training promotes stronger muscles, ligaments, bones, and tendons so that we are less prone to injury as we age. Not to mention working our core (notice I say core, not abs, as your core includes your upper thighs, hip flexors, back, etc.) helps to stabilize our bodies and prevent things like back injuries in everyday life. The biggest proponent to strength training though is the fact that a well-designed, hard-hitting resistance routine burns far more calories than a cardio routine ever will because you are using your muscles to exhaustion which burns tons of calories during and after the workout. Doing strength training properly causes micro tears in your muscle fibers which cause your body to move in a repair the damage afterward. This is what increases your resting metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after a good strength routine! That's right, after a good circuit-style strength routine, your body will be burning more calories at rest than usual...even when sleeping!

Women: "I don't want to lift weights, that's for bodybuilders!" - Related to the post above, many women are afraid of doing any serious weight lifting because they are afraid they will look like bodybuilders. No wonder women have such high incidence rates of osteoporosis, etc! The body basically follows the mentality, "Use it or lose it sister (or brother)." As we age, our bodies decay from inactivity, soooooo, if you are not using your muscles or creating a tactile load on your bones, they begin to decay away.

Truth is, majority of women don't have the necessary testosterone levels in their blood to pack on large amounts of muscle anyways! Women's bodies are built more for endurance so you get that long, sleek, toned look from weight training. Men's bodies are more built for power and speed. (In a general sense) Women should be aiming for timed circuit training or 15+ reps when training, but don't skimp on the weights, you want to push yourselves!

High Cholesterol - Cholesterol, like fat, has been victimized in the past. Cholesterol is now a household name for many as being "bad". Truth is, like fat, cholesterol is a vital part in the human body for regular cellular function as well as bile production to aid in the breakdown of foods. The confusion arises because some people have linked high cholesterol levels in our diets to dietary cholesterol which simply is not true. Studies are increasingly showing that high blood cholesterol comes from a diet high in saturated fats, while foods high in dietary cholesterol have a fairly negligible effect on high blood cholesterol. Foods high in dietary cholesterol but low in saturated fat, including eggs, shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, and other shellfish, can be safely eaten in moderation without having much effect on blood cholesterol levels.

The link between high blood cholesterol and dietary cholesterol seems to have a mixed signal here because non-seafood foods with high cholesterol also have high levels of saturated fats, which is the true root cause of high blood cholesterol. I know, it sounds confusing, but its true. The more and more something like a double cheeseburger creeps into your diet, the higher your blood cholesterol is going to climb...but its because of the saturated fats that do it!

Snacking Makes Me Fat - Remember your mom used to say to you, "Don't eat that snack, it will ruin your appetite!" Well good, ruin that appetite! People may fend off some hunger pangs, especially in the afternoon because they know dinner is coming up. The only problem with that is you then tend to overeat, and overeat very quickly by the time you get to dinner. More and more studies are showing that eating consistently throughout the day helps stabilize blood sugar levels and feeds our bodies with a constant supply of fuel.

Think back to our early ancestors roaming the countryside from cave to cave. They probably did not sit down at a McDonald's at 6pm to grab dinner, they were foraging and snacking all day on fruit and veggies that they found as traveled. This should be the same for you. Snacking does not mean a handful of chocolate or chips though, aim for something with some sustenance to it. Healthy fats such as nuts, or something with protein, or even some fruits and vegetables with fiber. Anything that will digest slowly and keep that slow fire burning in your gut rather than an energy drink or chocolate bar that will be digested and burned off quickly (or stored as fat quickly) causing you to...crave more sugar.

"I exercise, so I can eat whatever I want!" - There is a saying in the fitness industry that's along the lines of, "You can't out-train a bad diet." To live a long, healthy life, you must lead an active life with a good, balanced diet....period! Yes, there are times when we all like to pig-out on a dessert, but that should be VERY rare. You may have some friends/family members that are lucky because they have "one of those metabolisms" that help them burn calories all the time, super for them. You often see that with teenage boys/girls. Boys/men especially generally have more muscle tissue which means that those muscles are needing calories all the time. That also allows them to eat more calories and not worry about gaining weight. If you are getting older and are already fat, with little to no muscle mass, guess what, your resting metabolic rate is going to be low. Yes, you can eat treatsmore often if you are fit and have good muscle tone, but not all the time. Even more reason to hit the weight room...men AND women!

Drinking Water Flushes Out Fat - I have to laugh at this one. Have you ever mixed water and oil together? What happens to that oil? It pools on top of the water in little droplets. When was the last time you went pee and noticed little oil slicks in the toilet? Water does a lot of good for the body, but flushing out fat it does not. Often times, we confuse hunger for thirst, so if you are ever feeling hungry, try a glass of water first. Secondly, a dehydrated person will notice a substantial energy drop which makes your workouts suffer. Some studies have even shown a boost in your metabolism if you start your day with a cold glass of water. If that works or not, it certainly could not hurt!


Quote of the day:
"Too many people are thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, when they ought to just water the grass they are standing on."
~ Amar Dave

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com



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Day 185 - Resistance Training


Resistance, or weight training should be an integral part of any well-rounded fitness plan. Men and women have a lot to benefit from resistance training.

I know a lot of women are either afraid to train with weights or are not sure where to begin, but even simple exercises with weight can be highly beneficial. I recommend either a personal trainer or even doing some individual research to learn how to strength train properly to maximize your exercising benefits.

The truth of the matter is that many women are afraid of "bulking up" and shy away from too much strength training. Unfortunately, this is a long standing myth that prevents many women from improving their overall health. Most women lack the needed testosterone to get "bulky" so working with weights has more of a toning and strengthening effect on them. There are a myriad of other benefits that are accomplished through regular strength training that I will list below.

Keep that metabolism firing - Resistance routines help build muscle tissue. The more muscle mass you have, and the more efficient each of those muscles are, the more calories you burn on a day to day basis. Muscles are constantly burning calories, even when you sleep so many studies have proven that a resistance routine increases your metabolism for up to 24 hours after a workout. That means you will be burning more calories even when you are watching television or sleeping!

Prevent the effects of aging - As we age, our bodies are constantly deteriorating. This is a "use it or lose it" mentality that is imprinted in our genes. The body feels that it should cut away excess materials if they are not being used. Unfortunately for a lot of people, this makes them more prone to injury such as fractures and sprains not to mention an increased risk of arthritis and osteoporosis. Strength training has been proven to increase bone density, ligament and muscle strength, etc. The more of your muscles you move and use, the longer they will stick around to help your body stay healthy!

Diabetes prevention - Muscles actually also help your body improve its insulin sensitivity so you can ward off diabetes as you age as well.

Posture - A well-rounded strength training program also improves your posture which can help ward off structural pain such as back pain or tense/tight joints.

Keep Your Balance - A major risk facing us as we age is our decline in balance and coordination. As we age, it is natural for our bodies to become less nimble and more prone to falls. This is a leading cause of injury for seniors. By practicing strength training, you will be increasing your body's balance and coordination, helping you long into the later years of life.

Men don't usually need motivation to hit the weights as that is what they generally head for first when they enter a gym. If anything they need to improve their overall fitness with other aspects of fitness such as yoga, flexibility and cardiovascular exercises. Women on the other hand tend to shy away from weights as they are either unsure of what to do with them, or they are afraid of getting too muscular. A personal trainer can help design a program that will help round out your physical fitness program and make you a more overall healthy individual!


Quote of the day:
"People will hate you, rate you, shake you, and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you."
~ Unknown
Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com



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Day 111 - Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise Part 1


I came across an absolutely amazing article in the Strength and Conditioning Journal titled, "Nutrient Timing for Resistance Exercise" written by a team of PhD and CSCS certified individuals. This is probably the single-greatest resource I have come across detailing what is referred to as "nutritional timing" when it comes to resistance training, so if you are interested, pick up a copy for yourself!

I am not going to copy the entire article obviously, but over the next few blogs, I am going to include a few snippets and details from the article here on my blog to not only inform all of you, but to also try and convince you to pick up a copy of the article for yourself (if possible).

Part 1: Enhancing Performance in Individual Resistance Exercise Training Bouts

Carbohydrate

During resistance training, our muscles use and expend muscle glycogen. That is the primary fuel source for strength training. I have personally seen many debates regarding whether or not to supplement prior to a resistance training session with carbohydrates to enhance performance. Here is what the article has to say:

Despite this depletion of skeletal muscle glycogen, the majority of studies in which supplemental carbohydrate was ingested before a resistance training bout did not report improvements in resistance training performance. In the limited studies that reported a performance-enhancing effect of pre-exercise carbohydrate supplementation, it should be noted that the resistance training workouts were not of a practical nature and did not resemble workouts that are conducted in a typical athletic strength and conditioning program.

It should be noted that certain individuals feel the need to consume something prior to a resistance workout in order to avoid "bonking". For most individuals (such as myself), training on an empty stomach (early morning for example) should not be a problem as your muscles and liver store plenty of glycogen to sustain energy levels for a resistance training session.

On the other hand, if you believe that you "hit a wall" towards the end of your workout, you may want to either try consuming a small amount of carbs prior to a workout, or consume proper amounts of nutrition following a workout. It is the post-workout nutrition that allows you to sustain energy levels for following bouts of exercise.

Protein/Amino Acids

This is also a common debate amongst fitness enthusiasts. Many believe that supplementation of branch-chain amino acids (BCAAs) prior to exercise will enhance performance during a training session. Turns out, however, that only 3 of the approximately 20 amino acids are oxidized for energy (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), and going beyond that, they are oxidized for energy at levels below carbohydrates and fats.

The authors reported that the BCAAs had no effect on resistance exercise performance. Because of their limited role in oxidation during exercise and their inability to improve acute resistance exercise performance, amino acids should not be ingested before a resistance exercise bout, with the belief that they will improve the performance of the subsequent workout.

Keep in mind that the authors of this article clearly state that pre-workout consumption of BCAAs should not be used with the belief that they will improve performance, however there may be some validity to ingesting protein prior to a training session to reduce/reverse the catabolic effect.

Carbohydrate and Protein Supplementation

Similar to ingesting either carbohydrates alone, or protein alone prior to a workout, a concoction including carbohydrates and protein together yield no measurable benefits on performance.

In summary, it appears that ingesting carbohydrate alone, protein/amino acids alone, or carbohydrate plus protein before resistance exercise does not improve the performance of the resistance exercise workout in terms of total amount of weight lifted during the workout. In contrast, there are favorable outcomes resulting from carbohydrate and protein supplementation in terms of enhancing adaptations over time and on recovery.

Today's blog covered a good portion of pre-workout nutritional timing, Sunday's blog will then be targeting post-workout nutritional timing.

Quote of the day:
"Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure."
~ George Edward Woodberry





Day 76 - 10 Tips for Fat Loss


Here is a list of 10 effective tips to reducing body fat. Remember that the most effective method in losing weight/body fat is through diet, supplemented with a well-structured exercise program. Body fat cannot be spot-reduced - doing crunches will NOT shrink your belly.

1. Decrease/Eliminate Simple Carbs - There is a time and a place for simple sugars, such as immediately before a bout of extreme exercise. Other than that, there really is no use for simple sugars besides inflating your adipose tissue (fat cells). If you wish to lose the body fat, eliminate these the best you can!

2. Eat More Veggies - Related to #1, if you are filling up on veggies, you shouldn't be as hungry for simple carbs. Vegetables are high in fiber, complex carbs, vitamins, and minerals. They are great to keep you full and sustain your energy levels with very low calories. They are also a great way to stay hydrated as most vegetables are 95+% water!

3. Eat More Fruits - Also related to the 2 points above, although fruits have lots of sugar in them, they also have fiber and a slew of vitamins and nutrients. Fruits are what you should be using to help you power through workouts!

4. Lift Heavy Things - Resistance training helps burn more calories than steady-state cardio. Not only that, but a properly-designed resistance training program can increase your resting metabolic rate for 24-48 hours after the workout is over.

5. Interval Training - If you are training for an endurance event then long, slow distance (LSD) training is great. However, if you are just looking to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight, then interval training has been shown to be most effective!

6. Full-Body Workouts - If you wish to train for a bicep competition, then go right ahead and do bicep curls. However, if you are looking at total-body fitness, you are better off with multi-muscle, multi-joint exercises such as pushups, squats, pullups, etc. The more muscle you can recruit into each exercise, the more effective and efficient your workout is going to be!

7. Keep a Food Journal - I do not track calories all the time, but I highly recommend everyone at least try it every once in a while. Tracking your calories allows you to mentally focus on what is going into your mouth and then you can better understand your caloric intake, not to mention your macronutrient breakdown. There are a ton of free resources at your disposal on the internet and smart phones that can help you with this!

8. Don't Drink Your Calories - This is such a huge culprit for many people! Our bodies have evolved to feel 'full' when we eat things, not when we drink them. This can be a major problem for most folks as they can down a couple hundred calories in a sugary beverage yet still want to eat a full meal. Artificial sweeteners have their own list of problems too so I recommend just sticking with water, tea, coffee (limit your milk/sugar).

9. Skip Dessert - Sure it can be fun, but it is also completely unnecessary!

10. Little Things Add Up - Watching less tv. Taking your dog for a walk. Parking at the back of the parking lot and walking to the store. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Standing at your desk rather than sitting. All of these little changes add up over time. Try to mentally set yourself to think of small ways to be more active and burn more calories on a daily basis!

Quote of the day:
"You must have long term Goals to keep you from being frustrated by short term failures."
~Charles C. Noble






Day 34 - Fitness Fallacy



Cardio Training is Better for me Than Resistance Training. Well, depends. The correct answer should be that both types of training are equally important!

I see this all the time. Women especially head into a gym, hop on an elliptical or treadmill, etc and work away for an extended period of time, work up a slight sweat, then go home. What good is that? 

First of all, you are only working a specific portion of your body, not to mention not really burning a whole heck of a lot of calories. Yes, cardiovascular training is important. You need to get your heart rate up to clear the junk out of your arteries and veins to allow your heart to work more efficiently.

Second, a longer, slow-burn type of cardio session can do wonders to burning fat, lowering your resting heart rate, and lowering blood pressure. 

On the other hand, EVERYONE should incorporate some sort of strength training into their balanced exercise plan a couple times a week, at least! Men and women a like should work all of the muscles in their body at least twice a week.

Cardiovascular exercise is great for your brain and your internal plumbing, but resistance training is what will not only give you the calorie burn you are looking for during and following your workout. 

Not only that, but a properly-designed resistance program can elicit proper strains and forces placed on your bones, joints, and ligaments so that they can continue to repair and grow. This is important so that your body is strong and durable into old age.

Quote of the day:
"There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. We all have a choice. You can decide which type of person you want to be. I have always chosen to be in the first group."
-Mary Kay Ash





Day 8 - Exercise Myth

 
If I want to lose weight, I should do more cardio exercise. MYTH. 

Cardiovascular exercise is fantastic for your brain, circulatory system, and can burn calories. However, strength training raises resting metabolic rates for hours after a tough workout so you continue to burn calories long after you have left the gym!

What does 'Resting Metabolic Rate' mean? Your body is burning calories at all hours of the day. Processes in your body require energy to complete. These processes can include replacing/repairing tissue, digesting food, thinking, breathing, etc.

Unfortunately, most people seem to have 2 different training styles stuck in their head; cardio and resistance training. Why can't you combine them? Many people feel as though to burn calories and do "cardio", they should hop on the treadmill or elliptical, get their heart rate up to a respectable level and then keep it there for an extended period of time.

This is a common fallacy because unless you are training for a marathon, there is absolutely no need to keep an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time. Instead, why not add some total-body resistance work into your training and perform exercises in circuit (moving from one body part to the next with little to no break) so that you never stop moving. That way, you are working your muscles, but also getting "cardio" work at the same time. Remember, cardiovascular exercise means that you have an elevated heart rate, your body doesn't care if that's achieved from running or pushups!

Not only that, but oftentimes when individuals are 'doing cardio', they elevate their heart rate about mid-way to their max heart rate, then keep it there for an extended period of time, but never really pushing themselves to their max effort. By doing high-intensity interval exercises, your heart rate is climbing and falling multiple times throughout a workout which has been shown to be far more beneficial to overall health than steady-state cardiovascular exercise.

Quote of the day:
"Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still."
~Chinese Proverb





Mass Phase Progress - End of Phase 1



Well, today was my last day of Phase 1 of my Mass Phase. I am now heading into a recovery or transition week consisting of some light cardio workouts as well as some core work and recovery/yoga before I jump into Phase 2 starting on Sunday March 25th.

For those of you coming here looking for progress pictures, I am sorry, I am not posting anything until I am done the entire 9 weeks. This way, I can hopefully have as drastic of a change as possible. I can tell you, however, that I am up about 7 pounds since the beginning, 4 weeks ago, which is just under 2 pounds gained per week.

Although that may seem like a pretty impressive number, I will say that I am expecting to lose a bit of that weight during my recovery/transition week for a couple of reasons. One, when 'shocking' your body with a new workout regimen, you are no doubt going to gain some 'water weight'. This is due to the healing and repairing process the muscles do to build new tissue. Secondly, I have been supplementing with creatine, so there will be even more water retention on top of that. Not to worry however, as my diet has been quite clean, so I feel I am doing quite well packing on some good, lean muscle!

First off, let me detail what I have been up to for the past few weeks. For those of you missed my original post detailing my mass phase plans, you can check them out here. I made a few tweaks along the way, so I can detail a few changes below.

Chest & Back - I really tried to perform as much "progressive overload" as possible. Every week I tried to up my resistance on pushups by 10 lbs. and up my resistance on pullups by 5 lbs. while maintaining reps and form the best I could. Also, the last 2 times I did this routine, the 2nd "round" of bench work, I added drop sets for the decline, incline, and flat chest presses. This just allows that much more muscle fiber recruitment/breakdown to increase the affinity for hypertrophy.

Cardio - My day 2 of each week was used for really light cardio routines. They would be about 35-45 mins in length, and be just enough intensity to get my blood flowing to burn a few calories but also improve circulation and recovery. Too many people will reduce their chance of hypertrophy by doing too much cardio and not taking in enough calories. (See "Diet" below)

Fridays - On Fridays, I have been having to ingest crazy amounts of calories to try and maintain my weight. I am talking well over 4000 calories on those days. This is because not only have I been doing Upper Plus on Friday mornings, but I have been playing hockey on Friday nights as well. Now 4000+ calories is certainly not for everybody. You need to calculate your calories based on your age, sex, activity level, etc. and then add calories on to pack on weight. Again, you can see "Diet" below.

Diet

This is where many people fail in their attempts to gain weight, especially if you are somebody in their late teens or twenties. I know what you are going through, as I have been suffering from the same thing for years. Your metabolism is just so fast that it seems impossible to put on some weight. I definitely have my age on my side now as my metabolism has probably slowed down a little now that I am 27 years old, but I still have to take in some pretty crazy amounts of calories to gain weight.

For the most part, I have been aiming for, and hitting 3500-4000 calories a day - every day. My ratios have been pretty bang-on at 30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs. I do not worry about my diet at all on Saturdays because that is my "off" day. On Saturdays, I certainly do not sit down and scarf down bags of Doritos, but I also don't track my numbers as religiously. I allow this for peace of mind and not worrying about 'the numbers'. Now that may come as a surprise to some who think that your diet should reflect your activity level - and it should - but in a mass phase, you want to aim to keep your body fueled, especially on your lighter cardio days or yoga days because your body is still recovering from the heavy resistance the day before. Here is a brief overlook of my diet in the order I consume each in a day. It is pretty vague as I do not eat the same things every day!

Pre-Workout (06:30am)


On resistance days, I drink 250-500mL of chocolate milk 30-60 mins. before my workout. This allows me to 'top-up' my glycogen stores as well as get some protein into the system. I will also generally have a coffee with 1 sugar and a bit of 1% milk.

Post-Workout (8:00am)

Without a doubt, 500mL of chocolate milk immediately following my workout. I mix my creatine in at this point so that the sugar in the chocolate milk helps the uptake. The carbs here help re-supply my muscle glycogen, the protein helps protein synthesis, and the little bit of fat helps me reach my caloric goals for the day.

Breakfast (8:30am)

I generally aim for 2-4 scrambled eggs and 2-4 pieces of low-fat turkey bacon here. A bit of ketchup on the eggs and I am good to go.

Mid-Morning Snack 1 (10:00am)

Banana and protein shake. I have been playing around with a couple different protein shakes these past 4 weeks. Usually in the morning I will have a vanilla-flavored protein shake mixed in 1% milk. This protein that I take has a few more carbs in it, plus, mixing it with milk ups the calories in the shake and adds some more calories.

Mid-Morning Snack 2 (11:00am)

I mix 1/2 a cup of 2%MF (milk fat) cottage cheese with 1/2 a cup low-cal vanilla yogurt and some berries (usually blueberries or raspberries). The yogurt is low in sugar, I add it basically to help me get past the taste of straight-up cottage cheese. I add in some berries for some more flavor as well as the anti-oxidants involved. Here I will also have a big mug of green tea!

Lunch (12:30pm)

This varies from day to day, but I aim to get at least 30 grams of protein through meat or dairy sources with a bit of carbs and lots of carrot sticks. Baby carrots really are my lunch-time staple! Lunch is always my time for a glass of V8 V-Fusion drink. This may sound like I am promoting this thing, but I really do like this at lunch. In 1 glass (250mL), I get 1 full serving of vegetable and 1 full serving of fruit. No fiber, and high and sugar though so I usually just have the 250mL.

Afternoon Snack 1 (2:30pm)

Apple, Fiber 1 granola bar, and an Isoflex protein shake. I like to have a bit of carbs in my stomach before I take the protein shake to help the absorption and uptake. Isoflex protein is actually designed to be quick-absorbing, but I like to make sure regardless! I like Isoflex in the afternoon because it is low-cal, low-carb, and mixes great with water that I can just mix at work, shake it up, and down it!

Afternoon Snack 2 (4-4:30pm)

Back to the cottage cheese/yogurt/berry combo again from before. 1/2 a cup of cottage cheese has 15g of protein in it! I have another big mug of green tea here. Gotta stay hydrated, especially when taking creatine!

Dinner (6-7:00pm)

I have been aiming to be as low-carb as possible during my dinners. I will almost always aim for a piece of meat (2 chicken breasts, 2 pieces of salmon, 1 big piece of tilapia, steak occasionally) with veggies on the side. The veggies usually include steamed broccoli, a garden salad, or some asparagus. I like to throw some cheese in here with the veggies for that extra protein kick. Topped off with about 250-300mL of 1% milk. The odd time I will throw in a bit of carbs to help my workout for the next morning. In those cases, I will have a bit of whole-grain rice or a red potato.

On Fridays, I have been having whole-grain pasta with meat sauce to give me some extra carbs/calories to help me during my hockey game.

Pre-Bedtime Snack (9:00pm)

I go back to the whey vanilla/milk protein shake here. The extra fat in the shake helps to slow digestion so it keeps my muscles fueled longer into the night. I will generally also have a few tablespoons of peanut butter here to help my bedtime sweet tooth and keep my stomach from eating itself before I fall asleep!

So there you go, that is a general look at my progress and diet so far. My diet will be essentially the same heading into phase 2 because it seems to be working for me so far. I will post my final results in about 5 weeks from now so you can all see my final transformation, stay tuned!

Sources:
Photo - http://www.drugfreebodybuilding.com/gaining-muscle-mass.htm





Special Issues Related to Aerobic Endurance Training

There are other factors and variables at-play for an athlete who is actively training for endurance sports. These factors are listed below and should also be considered in aerobic endurance program design.

Cross-Training

There are many research studies that show the immense benefits to cross-training. Cross-training is essentially using other forms of physical activity to maintain or improve performance. Cross-training can be used to increase exercise economy in such cases like using weighted squats for runners to increase muscle strength. It can also be used to minimize the effects of certain training stresses. An example of this would be a runner using cycling maintain or improve his/her VO2 Max yet not have the physical impact on the body tissues from running.

Detraining

When an athlete ceases to train, especially in aerobic endurance training, the gains that have been attained from training can be lost very quickly. Cross-training can only slow this process slightly, so in order to slow or stop the loss of training benefits, an athlete should continue to train by modes discussed in a previous blog.

Tapering

Tapering has been show to be an effective way for aerobic athletes to reach their peak potential for a competition. The goal of tapering is to greatly reduce training duration and intensity for a set period of time before competition while greatly focusing attention on the individual's diet and lifestyle habits to increase their performance on race day. The idea is to allow the body to heal, recover and hydrate in order to 100% for competition.

Resistance Training

Similar to cross-training, resistance training can have many benefits for aerobic endurance athletes. Benefits include faster recovery from injuries, prevention of overuse injuries, and reduction of muscle imbalances.


-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Diet and Exercise Myths

I have compiled a list of a few myths that many people believe or assume to be true. You may be surprised at some of these, so enjoy!

Myth #1 - Sugar causes diabetes

Many people just assume that since diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are out of whack, then it must be ingesting too much sugar that causes diabetes. This is not entirely true. The major risk factors for diabetes is obesity and inactivity, 2 things our society is really starting to see the deleterious effects of now. The truth of the matter is that sugar or sugars (pastas, breads, candy, jams, etc.) can be highly caloric. A high calorie diet can lead to obesity, and diabetes. However, do not confuse blood sugar levels with dietary sugar. If somebody is very active and a normal body weight, the chances of developing diabetes are reduced because not only do they burn more calories, but their muscles soak up sugar like its going out of style. You can become obese, which can lead to diabetes from eating too many calories, which can include protein and fats as well. Just remember to keep a respectable, well-rounded diet and stay as active as you can, and you will greatly reduce your risk for diabetes.

Myth #2 - I exercise all the time, I can eat whatever I want!

Similar to myth #1, some people feel as though they can "splurge" and eat something crappy because they were "good" and went to the gym that morning. Although there are many variables, and things aren't so clearly black and white, for the most part, if you wish to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in each day. The problem seem to run into is that they drastically overestimate how many calories they burn during a workout. Just to give you a very basic example, a 170 pound man that walks for 30mins burns an additional 140 calories (approximately), that's like half a juice-box! I always try and tell people that if they wish to lose weight, they need to have a well-balanced diet and exercise, but cutting 500 calories out of your diet daily is much easier than 500 calories at the gym.

Myth #3 - Drinking lots of water flushes out fat

Staying hydrated is very important. But drinking lots of fluids in a day will just make you pee more, and no, your body fat will not be flushed out with your pee. Dehydration can cause a number of problems in the body including fatigue, so it is definitely important to stay hydrated, but water is not your saving grace when it comes to washing away fat. Having said that, there are a number of studies that have shown that people that drink more water have a better chance at staying thin. I think there are a few reasons for this. First of all, sometimes when you feel like snacking, your thirst mechanism is just mimicking your hunger mechanism, so often times when people think they are hungry, they are actually just thirsty. Secondly, the more water you drink, the less time/interest you have for other high-calorie beverages that can make your waistline explode. Drink more water for a healthier you? Yes. Drink more water to wash away fat? No.

Myth #4 - I am too tired to exercise, it is best to just rest

Wrong. Exercise can actually increase your energy levels. I know the feeling, many people get home from work and have absolutely no interest in exercising. If you are like me and dread working out after a day of work, then try changing your schedule to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and exercise before work. Now there's a novel idea! Yes, it will take some getting used to, but once you get into the routine, it will be just that, routine. Plus, I find my energy levels are higher on the days I exercise than not.

Myth #5 - If I want to lose weight, I should do more cardio exercise

Cardiovascular exercise is fantastic for your brain and heart and can burn calories. However, strength training raises resting metabolic rates for hours after a tough workout so you continue to burn calories long after you have left the gym! Unfortunately, most people seem to have 2 different training styles stuck in their head; cardio and resistance training. Why can't you combine them? Many people feel as though to burn calories and do "cardio", they should hop on the treadmill or elliptical, get their heart rate up to a respectable level and then keep it there for an extended period of time. Unless you are training for a marathon, there is absolutely no need to keep an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time. Instead, why not add some total-body resistance work into your training and perform exercises in circuit (moving from one body part to the next with little to no break) so that you never stop moving. That way, you are working your muscles, but also getting "cardio" work at the same time. Remember, cardiovascular exercise means that you have an elevated heart rate, your body doesn't care if that's achieved from running or pushups!

Myth #6 - After my workout, I should grab a sports drink

Soft drink companies are very clever in their marketing, by showing these intense athletes fueling up with all of these "electrolytes" after their workout. That is fine and dandy, but all "electrolytes" are are salts that can be attained from a regular diet, you know, fruits and vegetables? The general rule of thumb I try and tell people is that if your workout is under an hour, drink water and get something (healthy) to eat. If you are over an hour, then sure, a sports drink can be helpful.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Combining Plyometric Exercise with Other Training

Plyometrics are an effective form of exercise for specific needs, but should only play a part in a total-body exercise program. This blog will discuss the idea of effectively combining plyometrics with other exercise types either on same days or opposing days.

Plyometric Exercise and Resistance Training

By combining different training types in the same day, athletes are generally not recommended to combine heavy resistance training and plyometrics of the same body parts in the same day. Instead, by splitting upper and lower body training can become effective and efficient. For example, one day, an athlete may want to use high-intensity upper body resistance training, and should therefore only use low-intensity lower body plyometric training. The opposite of that would be the next day where the individual would then perform low-intensity upper bod resistance training and highly intense lower body plyometric training.

There are, of course exceptions to almost every rule. In one instance, an athlete could greatly benefit from combining some resistance training with plyometric training. An example of this would have the athlete using about 30% of their 1-rep maximum load in their squat jumps.

Another exception to the rule would be for highly trained individuals only. In this case, by using complex training known as "post-activation potentiation" (P.A.P.), an individual would use a weighted resistance exercise immediately followed by a plyometric or explosive exercise. Research has shown that these "complexes" are highly effective at recruiting high-threshold muscle motor units.

Plyometric and Aerobic Exercise
It should be noted that plyometric exercise, when used as power training, should be used before, and separated from aerobic exercise. However, by understanding the needs of specific athletes (basketball, soccer, hockey players), one would understand the need for the combination of plyometric exercise (anaerobic power) with aerobic conditioning, so the two forms of exercise can be combined, but the aerobic exercise can limit some of the power benefits gained from the plyometrics.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 5: Training Load and Repetitions

Load is the most critical part of a resistance training program. I will detail ways in which fitness professionals define and use loads in a well-rounded resistance training program.

Terminology Used to Quantify and Qualify Mechanical Work

Mechanical Work - force and displacement (distance) an object or weight is moved. A quantifiable way in which you can measure mechanical work is like in Olympic weight lifting when you multiply a weight lifted by the number of times lifted.

Load Volume (or Volume Load) - Basically a measurement of weight (units) multiplied by distance (distance units) and repetitions. To note however, that certain repetition quantities alter the quality of the work being done. For example, 1 set of 15 repetitions is not the same as 3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Relationship Between Load and Repetitions

Repetitions is and should be inversely related to the load lifted, especially when calculating correct loads for specific repetition amounts. For example, the higher the load, the lower number of reps an individual should be able to lift.

Calculating 1-repetition maximum (1RM) and 10-repetition maximum for individuals is a highly effective tool to structure a proper resistance training program. Depending on an individual's goals, their resistance exercises should remain within a specific rep range to meet such goals, which will be discussed later.

Keep in mind that an individual's 1RM (or calculated 1RM) on a weight machine may be significantly higher than doing a similar action with free weights as more synergistic muscles must be involved, potentially lowering the overall strength capacity of the user.

Below is a chart that can be used to determine 1RM based on percentages of weights lifted. There are many exceptions to this chart however based upon what muscles are being worked as well as the individual's comfort and skill level.

%1RM - # Repetitions Allowed
100 - 1
95 - 2
93 - 3
90 - 4
87 - 5
85 - 6
83 - 7
80 - 8
77 - 9
75 - 10
70 - 11
67 - 12
65 - 15

Calculating 1RM

There are few different ways you can calculate a 1RM for a specific exercise for an individual. For starters, a test can be conducted in which an individual can progress through a few "warm-up" sets and then, using a hypothetical 1RM, attempt to lift their heaviest weight possible for 1 repetition. Another way to calculate is by using the above chart to have an individual complete an exercise with a desired weight for as many repetitions as they can (preferably below 10 reps or so) to then calculate a theoretical 1RM.

When attempting an accurate 1RM test, where the individual is attempting to lift their heaviest weight for 1 repetition, a few things should be considered. First of all, only those individuals who are considered intermediate or experienced weightlifters who have a lot of experience at the specific exercise should attempt a 1RM test. Also, only power or core exercises that involve large muscle groups and multiple joints can withstand the large forces placed upon the body.

Assigning Load and Repetitions Based on the Training Goal

Once a strength and conditioning specialist has made a well-judged assessment based on an individuals needs (Step 1: Needs Analysis), as well as tested for actual and theoretical 1RM's, a training program can then be designed based upon the trainee's goals and therefore load and repetition quantities.

Generally, there are 4 main categories of resistance training goal sets.

1. "Strength" training is when an individual stays in a 1-6 rep range or so (85-100% 1RM). Strength training has minimal muscular growth, but very large potential for very strong muscles. Strength training should primarily be kept to "Core" exercises (large muscle groups, multi-joint).

2. "Hypertrophy" training is the training mode that creates the most muscular growth with added strength as well. Here, an individual should aim for a 6-12 rep range (85-70% 1RM).

3. "Endurance" training is to teach your muscles to be as fatigue-resistant as possible. Not a whole lot of strength gains are found here, nor much muscular growth, but muscular endurance training certainly has its place in training many individuals and athletes alike. Here you would want to push your repetitions higher than 12 (67% 1RM).

4. "Power" training is similar to strength training but slightly different. Due to the fact that the muscles are trying to displace (move) a weight as fast as possible, the muscles can not generate as much overall force, therefore slightly lowering the power weight goals to stay within a specific rep range. Here, you would be aiming for approximately 80% 1RM in order to stay in a 2-5 rep range.

Variation of the Training Load

Although an experienced weightlifter or athlete may mentally feel prepared to lift "heavy" 3 times a week (M,W,F), the heavy strains placed on the body can quickly lead to overtraining. Instead, a 3 day-a-week training schedule involving power and other core exercises should be split into a "heavy", "medium", and "light" day where the light day involves lifting 80% of the loads lifted on the heavy day, while maintaining the same repetition counts as the heavy day.
-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 3: Training Frequency

Training frequency is essentially the number of resistance training sessions within a time period (usually 1 week). Like the other previous categories or steps in this 7-step program design approach, training frequency is dependent on the experience and fitness level of the individual.

Training Status

Generally, training sessions are based on number of sessions, or more specifically, the number of rest or recovery days for specific body parts between sessions. The general rule of thumb is to have no fewer than 1 day of recovery in between resistance routines for a specific body part, but also no more than about 3 days between. For example, if a beginner is doing total-body workouts on resistance days, the pattern should try and be split up so that the week is balanced properly such as a Monday-Thursday schedule.

As an individual progresses from a "beginner" or someone who is new to resistance training, to a more experienced resistance-trained athlete, they can then increase their number of resistance training sessions per week as well as single-out specific body parts in a more concentrated manner.

For example, beginners should generally start out with 2-3 total-body resistance workouts per week. As they become more accustomed to the intensity and workload, then can then increase to 3-4 workouts per week and eventually 4-7 resistance routines per week. As more resistance routines are used each week, it becomes imperative and necessary to have more body-part specific workouts to ensure correct recovery after each session.

Sport Season

Athletes should generally decrease the time spent in the weight room during the sport season. If a proper resistance-training program has been designed, their strength and power should be developed and honed during the off-season and then simply maintained during the season as well as skill-specific training increases. This also ensures that proper recovery time is allotted for sport-specific training.

Training Load and Exercise Type
The more resistance used during a training session generally means that more recovery is needed following. To somewhat bypass this setback would be to alternate heavy resistance training days with lighter days. A few other things to note is that the upper body requires less recovery time after heavy resistance training than lower body. Also, "assistance exercises" (bicep curls, etc.) require less recovery time than multi-joint exercises or "core exercises".

Other Training

Of course, an individual's alternative training schedule (especially for athletes) should also play a part in their resistance training schedule. For example, an athlete who has a plyometric training day should not be directly proceeded or followed by a heavy resistance training session for the legs.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS